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Extended Audio Sample For the Time Being Audiobook, by Annie Dillard Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,751 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Annie Dillard Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2010 ISBN: 9781470801267
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From Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and one of the most compelling writers of our time, comes For the Time Being, her most profound narrative to date. With her keen eye, penchant for paradox, and yearning for truth, Dillard renews our ability to discover wonder in life’s smallest—and often darkest—corners.

Why do we exist? Where did we come from? How can one person matter? Dillard searches for answers in a powerful array of images: pictures of bird-headed dwarfs in the standard reference of human birth defects; ten thousand terra-cotta figures fashioned for a Chinese emperor in place of the human court that might have followed him into death; the paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin crossing the Gobi Desert; the dizzying variety of clouds. Vivid, eloquent, and haunting, For the Time Being evokes no less than the terrifying grandeur of all that remains tantalizingly and troublingly beyond our understanding.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Beautifully written and delightfully strange…As earthy as it is sublime, For the Time Being is, in the truest sense, an eye-opener.”

    New York Daily News

  • “This uncommon book is a testament to a rare and redeeming curiosity…an exhilarating, graceful roundelay of profound questions and suppositions about the human adventure in nature. And as always, reading Dillard makes this mind-expanding experience an emotional one…with a voice blending clear-eyed factuality with prismatic meditations on ineffable things.”

    Outside

  • “At heart Annie Dillard’s work is a record of her search for God…[and] For the Time Being is a brilliant book that…sums up God more succinctly than she ever has before.”

    Salon

  • “Writing as if on the edge of a precipice, staring over into the abyss, Dillard offers a risk-taking, inspiring meditation on life, death, birth, God, evil, eternity, the nuclear age, and the human predicament…Her razor-sharp lyricism hones this mind-expanding existential scrapbook, which is imbued with the same spiritual yearning, moral urgency, and reverence for nature that has informed nearly all of her nonfiction since the 1972 Pulitzer Prize–winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Dillard…has written another splendid meditative and spiritual book. Reflecting on places, people, and events, Dillard shares doubts, hopes, and insights that cut across religious boundaries and plumb human perplexities. She leads the reader into deeper questions, considerations of ultimate mystery, and a sense of the holy in the midst of the profane and even the terrible.”

    Library Journal

  • “This absorbing meditation…[is] a spare yet exquisitely wrought narrative…By turns funny, flinty, and sublime, Dillard meshes the historical, the scientific, the theological, and the personal in a valiant effort to net life’s paradoxes and wonders.”

    Booklist

  • “A work of piercing loveliness and sadness…One of those very rare works that will bear rereading and rereading again, each time revealing something new of itself.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A National Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 2/16/2014

    " Perennial favorite of mine. Ponderings of a Christian writer on life, death, faith and marvels at the scale of the natural world. Easily picked up and put down over long spans of time, and I always seem to get something new from it whenever I do pick it up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 2/16/2014

    " I've moved so much that I've given almost all books away. This is one I've saved. I've lost it twice, replaced it twice. I can't remember the last time I opened it, yet I would feel lost without it. Once, this was my cure for anxiety. Overcome, I would open it at random and read until I felt better. On the one hand, it affirms the uniqueness and wonder of all things. On the other, it reminds us of how insignificant we are in our universe of mind-boggling numbers. Both of these themes are developed in a roundabout way, through roughly a dozen subjects that Dillard repeatedly returns to--birth, China, clouds, thinker, and so on--examining them from different angles in her recognizably offbeat and unsettling way. Some parts drag, and many people would detest the book as a whole. The first time I picked it up, I dropped it after a few pages. But something made me open it again, and I was glad I did. One of the most intriguing, thought-provoking, and beautifully written books I've read by one of our most eccentric living authors. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie Shultz | 2/15/2014

    " Frithjof Shuon condensed the thought of the Gnostic Marco Pallis thus: "It is always the man who is absent, not grace." Nations, institutions, and most people dislike real religion, which is why they sometimes persecute its adherents, for the world everywhere prizes what Marcus Borg pinpoints as "achievement, affluence, and appearance," and strong souls, they say, try to sidestep just these things as snares. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jason | 2/14/2014

    " The stuff on dust just threw me. To say this book is philosophical is an understatement. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mel | 2/14/2014

    " While there are some real thought-provoking ideas in this book, the choppy narrative really distracted me. I'd only recommend this book if someone had the time to decipher through all the metaphors and flowery sentences to understand what the author is really trying to say. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamara | 2/13/2014

    " Stunning. Gorgeous. Deeply moving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 2/12/2014

    " This book was less immediately affecting than The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but it combines Dillard's intense curiosity for scientific fact (particularly anomalous cases) and religious history into a lyrical and beautiful prose style that seems to truly reflect the wonder and awe she finds in nature and life. I imagine Dillard as the sort of writer who spends hours pouring over really dense histories and scientific textbooks, only to pull out exquisite details which she renders into poetic insights into the human condition. Even if this isn't how she works, what is certain is the amount of herself Dillard injects into her prose. She wants readers to confront her uncertainties as well as her convictions, and she lays them bare. She also succeeds in the careful craftsmanship such lyrical writing demands. Here, she uses 7 chapters (hardly a coincidental number given how invested this book is in ideas regarding creation, birth, and existence). She divides them each into topic headings, beginning (always) with "birth" and ending (always) with "now." It is an incredible way to organize such vast swaths of information, and to allow the reader to glimpse patterns that may not have emerged otherwise. I recommend this, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek even more highly. Annie Dillard is one of my favorite writers. Reading her truly feels as if you are encountering someone who has to write in order to make sense of her world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patricia Joynton | 2/3/2014

    " Essays about life, death, shifting sands of time: typical wonderful Dillard. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 1/30/2014

    " Not my favorite Annie Dillard, but worth it just for her descriptions of the buried Chinese army, as well as the Hospital Ward for Newborns. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Santiago Valdez | 1/30/2014

    " Annie Dillard in For The Time Being breaks each chapter into 10 different themes that re-occur in the same order in each chapter; the chapters and the themes for that matter, could be read in any order and arrive with similar understandings. The book is poetic. In it life is examined, the smallness and giganticness of it, God, nature, man, history. If one thing leaves me desiring more is not how much this book made me think but that Annie Dillard herself did not make more appearances through the lines. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eve | 1/24/2014

    " Beautiful prose, lovely and introspective. Interesting historical stuff. Lacks a strong plot. Mostly contains a philosophical through line. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 1/22/2014

    " I loved it! I checked it out at library and now plan on buying it for my home. You can pick the book up and just read it anywhere and learn so much. The themes are lifem death, religions and science. Lot's of human existence statistics! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 1/21/2014

    " A book I go back to again and again and again... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janis | 1/19/2014

    " In this astonishing, mind-boggling book, Annie Dillard touches on topics including the terra-cotta army of the Qin emperor, birth defects, sand, clouds, the nature of evil, Jewish mystics, the life of Pierre Teilhard, death, time, and God. She explores that most central question -- "what are we doing here?" -- in her own penetrating and inspired way. Please, someone out there, read this extraordinary book and talk to me about it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alex Cunningham | 1/18/2014

    " I quake to review a book about the ineffable. This work is alive with the struggle with death. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 1/17/2014

    " A book I go back to again and again and again... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mel | 1/15/2014

    " While there are some real thought-provoking ideas in this book, the choppy narrative really distracted me. I'd only recommend this book if someone had the time to decipher through all the metaphors and flowery sentences to understand what the author is really trying to say. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marlaine | 1/14/2014

    " how to love the mysteries in this life "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 1/11/2014

    " Hell of a lot about how I relate to the world & my place in it. I've read it 3 times...so far. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brock | 1/9/2014

    " I just plain love all things Annie Dillard. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vaughn | 1/7/2014

    " the baal shem tov, pierre teilhard de chardin, sand. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 1/5/2014

    " It was weird, a little slow. But very interesting and thought-provoking. Overall, I liked it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mrs. Glaser | 12/13/2013

    " A journey through history --- we are connected to history and our environment. Beautifully written! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica | 12/2/2013

    " I really think Laurie would love this book. Actually, I think anyone who reads it will. It's wonderful. Not a story, just ruminations. And they are lovely. A book to open at random, to go to again and again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 11/15/2013

    " If I knew the name of Annie Dillard's muse, I would leave an offering. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 P.J. | 11/8/2013

    " Never before had I felt so exhausted after finishing a book. This one will knock you down, but manages to call you back for more. Amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamara | 11/4/2013

    " Stunning. Gorgeous. Deeply moving. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jason | 10/22/2013

    " The stuff on dust just threw me. To say this book is philosophical is an understatement. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ryan Eshleman | 10/19/2013

    " The Daily News said it best: "...delightfully strange..." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Moon Unit | 9/8/2013

    " This is the first Annie Dillard book I have ever read. I read it in a single sitting and decided I would read the rest of her books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela Webb | 7/13/2013

    " Incredible writing and really makes you think about the purpose of life and how we are all connected. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 6/18/2013

    " Brilliant, poetic, luxurious--as only the voice of Annie Dillard can be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Loren | 5/9/2013

    " if there was ever a book to truly make you reflect on the greater philosophical questions of life, this is it!! This book made me shiver. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chelle | 3/11/2013

    " Densely packed with her wandering and insightful mind. It is all connected. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chelle | 2/16/2013

    " Densely packed with her wandering and insightful mind. It is all connected. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chelsea Nelson | 11/21/2012

    " this should be scripture. i can read it over and over. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy Kendall | 11/10/2012

    " Probably my favorite Dillard (along with Holy the Firm). Otherworldly, strange, close. This is a continual read, I start it up again when I start to feel unmoored. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter Sakievich | 10/18/2012

    " The sheer mass and pulse of life on this planet. I've listened to the audiobook before but finally got the paperback recently. Annie has worked her subtle way into my brain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brownshoebrian | 10/15/2012

    " Awesome on a philosophical level. Scary if you're just about to have a baby. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Luke | 6/14/2012

    " Loved it, although became a bit challenging to read towards the end. Thought it got a bit too philosophical towards the end; enjoyed the beginning the most for the way in which I was moved, and felt I was beholding some real wisdom just beyond the threshold of understanding. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 6/7/2012

    " This book--a long lyric essay about birth, death, eternity, the meaning of life, etc.--is not for everybody, but if you're interested in a thoughtful and erudite meditation on one's proper place in the universe, this is an excellent one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 6/2/2012

    " Perennial favorite of mine. Ponderings of a Christian writer on life, death, faith and marvels at the scale of the natural world. Easily picked up and put down over long spans of time, and I always seem to get something new from it whenever I do pick it up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martha | 4/17/2012

    " Brilliantly layered & juxtaposed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matthew | 12/28/2011

    " Only made it about three-quarters through before I had to give it back to the library, but it is amazing!! The way that Dillard ties in radical tangents into the three of four main themes of her essays is amazing! I love this so much more than Pilgrim at Tinker Creek "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betsy | 10/25/2011

    " Very humbling. It's hard to make readers feel so small while simultaneously making life so meaningful, but Annie Dillard does it here. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Molly | 9/18/2011

    " beautiful, thought provoking, richly poetic language. becomes more poignant with each re-read. puts life in the most peaceful and serene of perspectives. we are all mortal, we are all unsure, we will all end one day, but it is okay. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hayley | 9/16/2011

    " The book used haunting images to ask the questions we all wish we had the words to ask. Though it was a bit abstract, I liked it. Many good "quotable" lines. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon Stewart | 9/13/2011

    " Read, read, read anything and everything by Annie Dillard. She is quite wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenwhitson | 8/20/2011

    " I think I'm beginning to understand her. love love love. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carly | 8/17/2011

    " Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It is full of fascinating bits of anthropological & scientific information that are presented in a really accessible way. But I don't know if this book will stay with me, and it didn't change me like most books do, so I'll stick with a solid 3 stars. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 7/3/2011

    " an all time favorite, must read it again... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Krissy | 6/20/2011

    " did anyone else like this book?! i tried it twice. i love knowing that one in every seven people is a chinese peasant, but i need more! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon | 6/19/2011

    " Read, read, read anything and everything by Annie Dillard. She is quite wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrienne | 5/15/2011

    " This is one of my all-time favorite books. It mixes a variety of story streams into one continuous thought on life. This is a book of everyday philosophy that I re-read every year. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 4/21/2011

    " Brilliant prose and fantastically original observations. Love the way she makes think. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenwhitson | 3/21/2011

    " I think I'm beginning to understand her. love love love. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jake | 2/6/2011

    " For the eighth time, Annie,
    I agree with what you say
    so why keep reminding myself?
    Life's mysteries, best served
    annually. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arne | 1/17/2011

    " Really lovely book of interlocking essays about faith, death, birth, all the big stuff. At times Dillard reaches in ways that are awkward or precious, but mostly it's a sweet cloud of words to lower yourself into. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brownshoebrian | 1/14/2011

    " Awesome on a philosophical level. Scary if you're just about to have a baby. "

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About the Author
Author Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and numerous other works of nonfiction, including An American Childhood and For the Time Being. Her novels include The Living and, most recently, The Maytrees.

About the Narrator

Tavia Gilbert, an acclaimed narrator of more than four hundred full-cast and multivoice audiobooks for virtually every publisher in the industry, is an eight-time nominee for the Audie Award and the recipient of seventeen Earphones Awards, a Voice Arts Award, and a Listen-Up Award. With frequent inclusion on best of year and annual top ten lists, she is a trusted and increasingly sought-after actress for work across every genre, from children’s and YA, to literary fiction, nonfiction, and genre fiction. Audible has named her a Genre-Defining Narrator: Master of Memoir, and Library Journal said of her, “as close as you can get to a full-cast narration with a solo voice.” She is a producer, singer, photographer, and a writer, as well as the cofounder of a feminist publishing company, Animal Mineral, with fiction and nonfiction focusing on relationships, love, and identity.